Automatic Word Counts in MS Word

I’m writing fiction at the moment. Which of course means I’m wasting time fiddling with formatting in Word.

A neat manuscript [requires a word count](http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~mslee/format.html) on the first page. MS Word will give you a neat word count if you try the `Insert` menu, then `Field…`, choose `NumWords`, and hit OK.

It’s fine, as far as it goes, but it’s very precise; it gives you a count that looks a little too autistic; ‘7672 words’. What you’d rather see is an approximation to, say, 100 words. Something more like ‘7700 words’. It’s fiddly, but you can do it. Save this off in a template somewhere and you’ll have automatic, neat wordcounting for ever after.

1. use `Insert` | `Field…`
2. Click the ‘Formula’ button
3. Type what follows and hit OK.

`= round ( 666 / 100 , 0) * 100`

You should see ‘700’ displayed as the approximate word count. This is 666 rounded to the nearest hundred. Change `100` to `1000` in the line above to round to the nearest thousand. To get your story’s count…

4. Right-click the number 700 and choose ‘Toggle Field Codes’
5. Select the number `666`
6. Hit ctrl-F9. The number now reads **{** 666 **}**
7. Delete `666` and type `NumWords` instead.

**{** = round ( **{** NumWords **}** / 100 , 0) * 100 **}**`

8. Right-click the grey field and choose ‘Update Field’
9. Voila! A neat wordcount, rounded to the nearest 100 words, and always up-to-date. The awesome power of a computer, neatly rounded.

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3 thoughts on “Automatic Word Counts in MS Word

  1. I had to change your formula a bit to round up to the next thousand. What I ended up with was {=round(/1000,0)*1000+1000\#”#,##0″}

  2. oops, lost something in translation. Here’s what works
    {=round(8442/1000,0)*1000+1000\#”#,##0″}
    I then exchanged “8442” for NumWords and it works.

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